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Your Digital Footprint

Your digital footprint. According to techterms.com, it is "a trail of data you create while using the internet. It includes the websites you visit, emails you send, and information you submit to online services." Considering that, your digital footprint includes; every email you have sent, every tweet you've posted, every Facebook status update, every comment, every video, every website you've visited, every shared post, every time you shared misinformation with knowing, every reply, every picture, every thing you have ever done on the Internet, ever, ever, ever, ever.

Here's is what I tell my students are the two biggest things to keep in mind when thinking about your digital footprint...
1. The Internet is all knowing.
2. The Internet is forever.

Imagine this. You (yes, the real you sitting there hopefully reading this right now) have an imaginary backpack. That imaginary backpack keeps a list of every thing you do, everywhere you go, and everything you say. Anyone with the right tools can look in your backpack and find out all about you... with or without your permission. Knowing that, are you going to be more careful about what you say? Are you going to be more careful about what you do? No? What if the contents of your backpack could impact your ability to get (or keep) a job? What if the contents of your backpack could determine whether or not you were accepted to college? Are you a bit more worried about it now? Did I forget to mention that you really don't get to take things out of your backpack? Hope you are thinking even harder about what you put into it.

The internet has given everyone access to the world, and a voice to shout from their own mountain. I'm using mine right now to try to convince you to be more mindful of yours. Some people will use their voice to lift others or spread awareness. Some will spread anger and hatred. Some will spread misinformation. What are you going to say on the Internet? Think carefully. It will become a part of your digital footprint.

Want some tips? Well, here's a few anyway.
1. Use the internet for positive reasons. Learn or teach others new skills, share positive experiences with others, be inspirational, find support from positive people.
2. If someone is clogging up your social media feed with negative junk, unfollow them. Replying to them in a negative way will leave your negativity in your footprint, and says more about you than it does about them. Replying to a troll on the internet in a positive way is not always productive.
3. As much as a negative digital footprint can be a dark cloud, a positive one can be a rainbow.
4. This is a big one. Remember, your online behavior creates your digital footprint. Want a positive reputation? Demonstrate positive online behavior.

It boils down to this, you are what you do. You are not what you think. You are not what you wish you were. You are what you do. This includes your online presence.

Want a positive digital footprint? Be a positive presence on the Internet.

Remember to take time to make the world, and the Internet a better place.


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